Portsmouth FC - A History

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Pompey were founded in April 1898. Formed by five businessmen - John Brickwood (1st Chairman), George Oliver, Alferd Bone, John Peters and William Wigginton.

Club formed from Royal Artillery team in the Southern League.

1st manager Frank Brettel. 1st game 2nd September 1899 (1 - 0 away win). 1st home game - friendly with Southampton.


Portsmouth Football Club first took up residence at Fratton Park back in 1898 when a group of six local businessmen, led by Brickwoods brewery boss John Brickwood, formed a syndicate to buy five acres of what was then agricultural land off Goldsmith Avenue in the heart of the city. Their total investment was £4,950!

But the club were actually formed some 15 years earlier when renowned Portsmouth architect Arthur Cogswell first pulled fellow enthusiasts to form a club under Football Association rules. Not a lot of people know that one A C Smith, who was PFC's first ever goalkeeper, was actually the one and only Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the world-famous Sherlock Holmes novels, whose Portsmouth links are well chronicled!

The club have enjoyed mixed fortunes since their humble beginnings, both on and off the pitch.

The Ground

Terraces were first introduced to Fratton Park and a pavilion built at the Frogmore Road entrance in 1905. In 1925 a new South Stand was built at a cost of £20,000. Three years later the Milton End was re-terraced and the capacity increased to 40,000.

In 1931, a year after the pitch was returfed, an improved North Stand was opened. Four years later it was rebuilt completely and the capacity increased to 58,000. It wasn't until 1956, the same year that Fratton Park staged its first floodlit league match, that the new £40,000 Fratton End was built.

In recent years Pompey have tried looking for a new home but plans have always fallen through - none more so than in 1994 when, after council permission had been secured for a brand new, out-of-town stadium at Farlington, an appeal saw Whitehall reject the plan. Pompey had no choice but to hastily install seats for the 1996/97 season folllowing the Taylor Report.

The summer of 1997 has seen a £2.5m revamp of Fratton Park begin. A new roof has been built over the North Stand, covering the lower area and a brand new 4,500-seater Fratton End should be open by November 1997.

The Owners

Pompey became Portsmouth Football Company Limited in 1912. In 1932, founder John Brickwood died as did chairman Albert Hooper in 1937. He was replaced by William Kiln, followed by Sydney Levett during the war years. Vernon Stokes took up the position during the 1950s.

John Deacon joined the Pompey board in 1972. the club hit financial problems in 1976 and a public SOS Pompey appeal raised £20,000 to clear immediate debts.

Jim Gregory became the new owner and chairman in 1988. In the mid 1990s as failing health took its toll, his son Martin assumed control. In August 1996 he invited former England coach Terry Venables to help save the struggling club.

In November El Tel stepped from his consultancy role and became chairman, buying a 51 per cent shareholding in the club for a stake of £1. In August 1997, having steered the club back into the black, he declared that he wanted to exercise his three-year option to buy out the remaining 45 per cent Gregory interest.

The Managers

Managers have come and gone throughout Pompey's 99-year history at Fratton Park - some so swiftly they are remembered by very few. First manager was Frank Brettell, who was followed by Robert Blyth in 1901 and then Richard Bonney in 1905.
The reins then switched from Robert Brown to John McCartney before the legendary Jack Tinn took control in 1927 for a 20-year spell. His succesor was Bob Jackson who lasted for five years after which Eddie Lever took over. In 1958 Freddie Cox was appointed, followed by George Smith in 1961.

In 1970 former Pompey player Ron Tindell took over. He was followed in 1973 by John Mortimer and then a year later by Ian St John. Three years later he was sacked to be replaced by none other than Jimmy Dickinson. However, two years later, Pompey's most famous player of all time suffered a heart attack and Frank Burrows was installed in 1979.

By 1982 his reign was over and he was replaced by Bobby Campbell. Two years later in 1984, 1966 World Cup hero Alan Ball was brought in and took the club back to the old First Division in 1987 - but only for one season. His departure soon after saw John Gregory take over. He was quickly followed by Frank Burrows in 1990, Tony Barton as caretaker manager a year later and finally Jim Smith in 1991.

The Bald Eagle's reign lasted until February 1995 when he was replaced by former England and QPR star Terry Fenwick in his first managerial role. He was replaced in February 1998 by Alan Ball.

The Stars

Perhaps Pompey's most famous player of all times was Jimmy Dickinson, who signed as a professional with the club in 1944 under the management of the also legendary Jack Tinn. During his 21-year career at PFC he was capped for England 48 times and made a total of 764 league appearances - without ever being booked. He died in 1982 at the age of 57, having spent two years as Pompey's manager from 1977-79.

One famous face to grace Pompey's history was Field Marshall Lord Montgomery who was elected club president in 1944. His association with the club is honoured by the naming of one of the hospitality areas, the Montgomery Suite, in his memory.

Other legendary players of the post-war era were winger Peter Harris, centre-half Jack Froggatt and striker Duggie Reid - who later returned to the club as groundsman in 1958, two years after retiring from the game.

The 60s and 70s saw a new breed of player emerge. Ron Saunders and John Milkins clocked up 234 and 344 league appearances respectively and the days of the lucrative transfer market set in.

In 1978 the legendary Alan Knight made his first appearance as a 16-year old, beginning a career with Pompey that lasts to today and has included more than 700 appearances for his club.

The 1980s saw Welshman Barry Horne, Alan Biley, Mick Kennedy, Mick Quinn, Mark Hateley, Neil Webb and Colin Clarke play in the famous royal blue strip. A forward-thinking policy saw youngsters Kit Symons, Andy Awford, Darren Anderton and Darryl Powell signed as teenagers and all move on - except defender Andy - to play in the Premiership, making significant contributions to the club's coffers.

Other folk heroes of the late 80s and early 90s included tricky winger Paul Walsh and ex-army corporal Guy Whittingham.

The Performances

Pompey spent their first two decades in the Southern League before being elected to the Football League proper in 1920 and a place in Division Three. Four seasons later they won promotion and in 1927 managed the leap to the First Division where they were to remain for the next 32 years.

Two seasons later, they were relegated to Division Three but in 1962 they finished league champions and stepped up again. fourteen years later they were down again and the club hit serious financial difficulties.

Further relegation followed in 1978 as Pompey dropped to the Fourth Division where they were to stay for two seasons. In 1983 they won the Third Division championship and promotion and finally reached the top flight again in 1987 under Alan Ball - but only for one season.

The club have remained in football's second flight ever since but are ever-optimistic of mounting a return to the elite band of top clubs - which became the Premiership in 1992 - and finished the 1996/97 a creditable seventh, just one place of a play-off spot.

In the FA Cup, Pompey have also enjoyed their claim to fame - not least of which is the record that they held the coveted trophy for the longest time from the victory in 1939 (our third appearance in a final and first success) until the competition was resumed in 1946.

The closest the club have ever got to taking the trophy again was losing to Liverpool in a semi-final replay 1992 on penalties. In the season 96/97 they reached the last eight and were defeated by the mighty Chelsea 4-1 at Fratton Park.

The Kit

It was not until 1913 that Pompey first sported their famous blue shirts and white shorts. They started out in salmon pink shirts - when they were nicknamed The Shrimps - and changed to white shirts and dark blue shorts in 1909 before switching to the colour that earned them the nickname of Blue or Blue and White Army

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